The county of Northumberland is home to many historical and picturesque sites. We are lucky enough to live in this amazing place, a short drive to the bustling city of Newcastle and a stones throw from the beach, countryside and woodland. We get to enjoy castles, countryside, the seaside, hills and wildlife within our county.
It is a magnificent place to explore with many opportunities for memory-making adventures. As a family, we try to have a mix of exploring the new, whilst returning to our favourite haunts regularly too. Here are our top five must-see places to visit to get you started on your journey.
Visit the 12 acres of award-winning gardens in Alnwick. There’s so much to see to keep the whole family entertained. Alnwick gardens know how to do water features and they are home to the great cascade fountains with a big water display every hour. The interactive water gardens are also great fun for the children to splash and explore, just remember to take towels and a change of clothes.
The gardens are also home to a picturesque cherry orchard. If you can catch it in full bloom it is a magnificent sight to behold from the wooden swing benches.
Children can explore the maze or play on the mini diggers. There are trails with intriguing clues to solve and in the summer there’s a host of street theatre to watch.
For a more peaceful trip meander through the rose and ornamental garden and take in the smell of the flowers. Don’t forget to walk over the rope bridges to stop off at the treehouse restaurant for a bite to eat on your way home.
Amble Beach and Harbour
Take a trip to the seaside village of Amble, home to brightly coloured beach huts, coves and long stretches of beach. Catch views of Coquet Island a short distance offshore and take a boat trip to see the birds there at the bird sanctuary.
See the boats at the harbour and visit the retail pods full of unique and interesting treasures and gifts. If you love seafood, have a bite to eat at one of the amazing seafood restaurants or cafes with the fresh fish caught off the nearby coast. Take a walk along the pier and if you’re lucky you might even see dolphins jumping and splashing nearby.
One of the fantastic National Trust sites which once was home to the Trevelyan family. It now hosts a historic house and extensive grounds made up of gardens, exciting play areas for the children and views of the countryside.
Our favourite spots as a family, have to be the hidden walled garden, the train station play area and the adventure playground. There’s so much to see and it’s full of exciting places to explore.
If you like to get up close to nature, you can walk along to the wildlife hide to see the birds at the bird feeders or a red squirrel in the trees. There are many walks and cycle tracks too from beginners to more challenging.
After a busy morning exploring, have a picnic on the West or East Lawn looking out onto the rolling hills or enjoy a bite to eat in the Clocktower cafe.
A visit to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of our ancient castles. It is hard to choose a favourite but one must-see castle is Dunstanburgh castle.
The castle itself dates back to 1313 and saw several sieges and historical events including the War of the Roses before it fell into disrepair. It is now an English Heritage site, so make sure to check booking arrangements in advance.
One of my favourite things about the trip to the castle is the walk from the nearby village of Craster to get there. The scenic walk takes you along the beautiful coast and across farmland with some fields of livestock. Catch sight of the dramatic views of the castle ruins on the way.
Explore the castle itself and take in its rich history, making sure to see the twin-towered keep. I have many fond memories of exploring the castle as a child and love sharing it with my own children.
The Farne Islands
If you have a love of nature, a trip to the Farne Islands is a must. Sir David Attenborough himself once said that it was his favourite place to see ‘magnificent nature’ in the UK. The islands are off the coast of the picturesque village of Seahouses. You can get there by taking one of the regular boat rides from the harbour.
The islands are home to many species of birds, most famously the magnificent puffins. Seals like to rest on the surrounding rocks and dolphins can be seen in waters nearby. Take your camera and binoculars, see some wonderful wildlife and make some amazing memories.
Have you visited Northumberland yet? The sites here are just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more to see. Once you visit Northumberland I know you’ll fall in love with it just as much as we have. I hope I’ve inspired you to keep exploring our wonderful county, there are so many magnificent gems to find.